Zaidi outlines keys to Giants' success in 2021 season


When he sat down with local reporters last week to discuss the state of the Giants and what lies ahead, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made it clear that the front office hadn't fully turned its attention to the trade deadline at that point. 

"We've been focused on the draft," Zaidi said.

That's what you would expect from any team, but particularly one that has maniacally worked to rebuild what was a poor farm system not too long ago. The Giants remain in accumulation mode, but they also happen to have MLB's top record at the All-Star break.

It's the best of both worlds right now, and as Zaidi thought about a stunning first-half run, he said there were a few things that stood out, including how effective the holdovers have been. Zaidi inherited Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and others, and while most around the game thought there would be an eventual fire sale, the new regime held on. 

The veterans have been leaders on the field -- Posey and Crawford joined imported veteran Kevin Gausman as All-Stars -- but have been just as impactful off the field, Zaidi said. 

"With our performance so far as a team, we get asked, 'What's the secret?' There's no one thing. It's a lot of things that have gone well," Zaidi said. "It's our veteran guys, not just performing well, but really setting the tone in the clubhouse and how they go about it on a day-in, day-out basis. The personality of the team is very reflective of our leaders, of Buster and Craw and Longo, and on the pitching staff, Gaus. They just have a very unflappable nature and are very kind of business-like and understated in how they go about it. It's a very professional feel to the team, which I know a lot of people appreciate.

"We have had a lot of surprises, too, guys that have helped us in little spurts of the season and other guys that have done well over the course of all (89) games. It has been a combination of those things. I think you need that."

The effective mix is apparent when you look at the team's biggest contributors. Crawford and Posey rank second and fourth on the roster in bWAR, with newcomers Gausman (first) and Anthony DeSclafani (third) making up the rest of the top tier. After that it's another holdover (Steven Duggar) and another surprise brought in by this front office (Mike Yastrzemski). Longoria and Belt rank seventh and 10th despite missing plenty of time with injuries, with Darin Ruf, one of this new front office's best finds, coming in eighth. 

The final member of the top 10 right now is an interesting mix of two regimes. Tyler Rogers (ninth with 1.6 bWAR) was drafted and developed by the previous front office, but didn't really get a look as an impact reliever until Gabe Kapler took over. 

That top 10 also shows off another element of this hot start that has stood out to Zaidi. The Giants have gotten much more than they could have reasonably asked for from players like Crawford and Posey, but they maybe aren't even the biggest surprises. Duggar -- who has a .845 OPS and six homers -- has wildly exceeded preseason projections, leading a pack of unexpected contributors that includes guys like Ruf and LaMonte Wade Jr. 

RELATED: Five stats that define Giants first half

Add it all up and you have a team that flew to St. Louis with a 57-32 record and a two-game lead in the NL West. 

"You need some guys exceeding expectations," Zaidi said, "And some guys that you didn't have any expectations for kinda coming out of nowhere."

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